The Cover!

Below, I give you the cover design for the Canadian and US edition of The Demonologist.  The texture and colour and striking simplicity articulates the book so lusciously, I’m in debt to its designers, Jackie Seow and Esther Paradelo, at Simon & Schuster, for such great work.

What’s also cool about it is that the hardcover will feature a cut-out of one of the o’s, which will have an eye looking out from within.  If you pull the flap back, you will see that the eye belongs to a girl – Tess, the protagonist’s daughter – cast against a classically hellish landscape.  I’m planning on blowing that one up as a poster and putting it on the office wall.  It’ll do the same job that those sappy “INSPIRATION” posters do for others.


There may yet be some changes to come, but it seems that the pub dates for The Demonologist are firming up.  Currently, Simon & Schuster is planning to publish on March 5, 2013, simultaneously in Canada and the US.  And Orion has set the novel for May 2, 2013 in the UK.  Still a ways off, in normal human anticipation-of-future-events terms, but right around the corner in publishing terms.  Certainly close enough to pre-order the book from your favourite bookstore so that it’s waiting for you, with a devilish grin, when it arrives hot off the press…

The Demonologist – UK Cover

The publication date may not be entirely settled yet (it will be some time in the first months of 2013) and there may yet be some tweaks to come, but I thought I’d share Orion’s cover design for The Demonologist in the UK!

I really like it, though I was at first surprised by its “historical” vibe (the novel is set in the present day).  But then, given the mythological context of the story – Paradise Lost, ancient spirits, original sin – it makes a lot of sense.  Plus Venice is just simultaneously beautiful and haunting and somehow corrupt-looking in a way I love.  I particularly like the font they’ve chosen for the title.  Again, not what I would have expected, but it has a creepiness all its own.

There’s also a couple little visual surprises buried in the image.  Look carefully:  there’s a girl falling from one of the rooftops.  Look carefully again:  there’s a classical demon “face” in the waves of the Grand Canal.

And big thanks to SJ Watson (he of the brilliant Before I Go to Sleep) for the cover blurb!  Here’s the full text of his comment:  “Plenty of books claim to be scary, but this is genuinely terrifying, don’t-read-late-at-night stuff.  Thrilling, compelling and beautifully written, The Demonologist makes Rosemary’s Baby feel like a walk in the park.”  Naturally, that Rosemary’s Baby comparison is particularly gratifying…

(I should add that it’s interesting how completely different the cover is turning out to be for the US and Canada – but more about that another day).


To one degree or another, all of my novels involve the supernatural.  Not explicitly for the most part – they’re not populated by material ghoulies, but rather visited by them peripherally, questionably – but the possibility of the impossible runs through the work, with the intention of dizzying the characters’ relationship to reality as well as the readers’ (if all goes well).  But that’s just to describe what’s happening on the page.  What’s considerably more odd is when the weirdness of the books graduate to the weirdness of readers’ real lives.

It hasn’t happened a lot.  But it has happened.  A reader will write or approach me after I’ve given a reading or talk.  Their eyes are often downcast with embarrassment or, once or twice, widened with real fear.  They will then tell me how something from one of my books has been sighted in their own experience, as though a spirit from the novel has transferred to haunt them.

I don’t want to suggest that this has led to any kind of Amityville Horror-style disruptions or anything.  Nothing actually bad has been triggered.  Usually, it’s just someone thinking they’ve seen a character from The Killing Circle on a Toronto street, or having a vivid dream about The Boy from The Guardians.  Chilling, perhaps, but only mildly freaky from a How-Do-You-Explain-That? point of view.

Until now.

The publication of the new novel, The Demonologist, is still several months off, but there has now been three distinct episodes of higher-grade weirdness reported to me by early readers of the manuscript.  For the first time ever, one of them is me.

I’m actually compiling a little file of these things, as I find it interesting, even if I don’t take it too seriously.  Still, if any more of this kind of stuff goes on I might have to write something about it.  For now, I’ve just been nudged a half-inch closer to wondering about the magical aspects of giving life to stories, where “magical” is intended in the “dark arts” sense and not the Walt Disney, “feel like a carefree kid again” sense.

The Demonologist Goes Greek

There’s another foreign language for The Demonologist:  Greek.  Klidarithmos will translate and publish my novel, and good on them.  Publishing in Greece (anything in Greece) can’t be easy at the moment, and I’m grateful to the commitment they’re making to the novel.  It’s also, thrillingly, the first of my books to be translated into Greek.

Thank you to Liv Stones, Sally Riley and the rest of the foreign language agents fighting the good demonological fight at Aitken Alexander Associates across the pond in London.

The Demonologist in Holland

I’m so happy to report that The Demonologist has its first foreign language sale.  The language is Dutch, and the publisher is Ambo|Anthos, which is my longest-standing publisher, the only one to have published all of my novels.  I really love them and Ambo|Anthos’ great Chris Herschdorfer, whom I’d take a (rubber) bullet for.

The (Un)Importance of the First Line

Writers can be superstitious ninnies, often almost Victorian in their quaint forms of lace-and-candle spiritualism.  Take, for instance, the belief that “My Characters Speak to Me.”  By this way of approaching the creative process, the writer is a sensitive, the one who voices the unseen from the seance table.  While minding their own business, the fictioneer is assaulted by a voice that tells them their story, and the writer, involuntarily taking up his quill, merely records this transcript from Another Sphere as it comes to them.  There is nothing so icky and crude as fabrication or manipulation or structuring involved.  It…just…happens.

In practice, it doesn’t quite work that way.  That is, outside of the Author Interview where such pronouncements can have at least a ring of syrupy credibility, it never works that way.  It’s just another of those romantic conceptions of how Good Writing Happens that, in the real world of the grease-and-tear-stained desk, do more harm than good.

Another one?  “The first line of my book came to me before I started writing, and it never changed.”

People like this kind of stuff.  I like this kind of stuff.  Believing that ideas can come to our minds, whole and perfect, before our even knowing what they are, before testing them, has an appeal as potent as life after death.

Trouble is, the first line of a book is often given more weight than it can bear, and writers can be stymied by trying to nail it and then never moving from it, as though a tablet they’ve had to drag down a mountain, one they’d be struck down by lightning if they dared doing a little editing job on.

I thought I had the first line of The Demonologist, the novel I’m now editing, right from the get-go.  Deceptively simple, thematically suggestive, stark, dramatic.  Beautiful.  It was, for every draft of the many drafts until today’s, always a single standalone word:


And then my editor suggested starting the book with…something else.  Something else? Blasphemy!  But my first line had always been the First Line!  You don’t mess with that kind of voodoo!  What could be better than what I’ve always had?

What I have now.

The Demonologist and the Movies

So it’s rather a lot to report all at once (I really have to get better at this blog thing) but, to begin, I’ve written a new novel.  It’s called The Demonologist.  And though it won’t see the light of day, book-form-wise, until mid-October in the U.K. (and sometime early in 2013 everywhere else) it’s been optioned for film.  By Universal Pictures.  To be produced by ImageMovers.  Which is Robert Zemeckis’ company.

I’d like to lend a shout out to my excellent agents on their swift campaign, namely Howard Sanders at UTA in Los Angeles, Stephanie Cabot at The Gernert Agency in New York, and Anne McDermid here in Toronto.  May I pick up your tabs at our next half dozen meetings.

The Demonologist – Deadline Hollywood